The Householder Symposia originated in a series of meetings organized by Alston Householder, Director of the Mathematics Division of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Ford Professor at the University of Tennessee (Householder's biography in the MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive). These international meetings were devoted to matrix computations and linear algebra and were held in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. They had a profound influence on the subject.

The last "Gatlinburg" conference was held in 1969 on the occasion of Householder's retirement. At the time, it was decided to continue the meetings but vary the place. Since then meetings have been held at three year intervals in a variety of venues.

The meetings, which last for five days, are restricted to about 125 people. They are intensive, with plenary talks in the day and special sessions in the evenings. To encourage people to talk about work in progress, no proceedings are published, although extended abstracts are circulated. The response of the participants to the meetings has been uniformly enthusiastic.

The conferences are run in tandem by a permanent organizing committee and a local arrangements committee. Although attendance is restricted, anyone – including students – can apply. Selection is made by the organizing committee, generally by ballot.

The meeting is also the occasion for the award of the Householder prize for the best thesis in numerical linear algebra. This prize is entirely (and well) supported by contributions solicited at the Symposium banquet.

Here is a complete list of the previous symposia:

    Number Year Place Organized by
    I 1961 Gatlinburg, USA A. S. Householder
    II 1963 Gatlinburg, USA A. S. Householder, F. W. J. Olver
    III 1964 Gatlinburg, USA (Photo) A. S. Householder
    IV 1969 Gatlinburg, USA A. S. Householder
    V 1972 Los Alamos, USA R. S. Varga
    VI 1974 Hopfen am See, BRD F. L. Bauer
    VII 1977 Asilomar, USA (Photo collection) G. H. Golub
    VIII 1981 Oxford, ENGLAND L. Fox, J. H. Wilkinson
    IX 1984 Waterloo, CANADA J. A. George
    X 1987 Fairfield Glade, USA R. C. Ward, G. W. Stewart
    XI 1990 Tylosand, SWEDEN A. Bjorck
    XII 1993 Lake Arrowhead, USA (Photo) T. F. Chan, G. H. Golub
    XIII 1996 Pontresina, SWITZERLAND W. Gander, M. H. Gutknecht, D. P. O'Leary
    XIV 1999 Whistler, B.C., CANADA J. M. Varah, G. W. Stewart
    XV 2002 Peebles, SCOTLAND (Photo collection, Mark Embree's report) P. Knight, A. Ramage, A. Wathen, N. J. Higham
    XVI 2005 Seven Springs, USA (Photo collection) J. Barlow, D. Szyld, H. Zha, C. Van Loan
    XVII 2008 Zeuthen, GERMANY J.Liesen, V. Mehrmann, R. Nabben, A. Bunse-Gerstner

At Householder XIII in Pontresina, Switzerland, F. L. (Fritz) Bauer gave an after-banquet talk, remembering the Symposium's namesake, and the early history of the meetings. Click here for Bauer's notes for the talk (posted in NA Digest, July 18, 1996, vol. 96, no. 27).